Info Echoes of Syros by Dempster, Heasley & Rieman 
"Echoes of Syros"
by Dempster, Heasley & Rieman
Full Bleed Music (FBM003)
"Echoes of Syros"
"Celestial"
"The Chimaera"
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fn issue October 2011
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Since furthernoise.org's last accounting of Tom Heasley's unique approach to the tuba, his career has spread in multiple directions like desert flowers after spring rains. He has launched his own record label, Full Bleed Music, his book on contemporary tuba technique, with special emphasis on multiphonics, is due for release next year and he has sought musical collaborations far outside the ambient field where he is so well known and respected. The maiden release on Full Bleed Music, Passages, featured jazz percussionist Toss Spanos, featuring the two of them presenting a unique perspective on drum and bass. Last summer, he hooked up with Deep Listening trombonist Stuart Dempster for an extended session in the legendary "Cistern Chapel" at Fort Worden, Washington, a two hundred million gallon underground chamber with a forty five-second reverberation time. Shortly thereafter, Dempster joined with Heasley and Eric Glick Rieman on prepared Rhodes electric piano for a gallery concert in Oakland, California. This event, their first meeting together as a trio, was recorded and has now been released, lightly edited, on Full Bleed as Echoes of Syros.

The opening title track, longer than the rest of the album put together, will be delightfully familiar to fans of Dempster and Heasley alike, fulfilling the imagined possibilities of a meeting between these two deep brass performers. Rieman acts as a wild card, interweaving gentle percussive and bell sounds, exotic spice in the slowly evolving drift. Dempster uses Heasley's enveloping ambience as a springboard to solo, first on muted trombone and later on a growling didjeridu, adding another layer of focus to the swirling mix. The shorter remaining tracks show Heasley and Dempster slowly moving outside of long, sustained tones as Rieman's Rhodes takes on a larger role. Heasley sets aside the electronics completely on Celestial and Interzone, so Rieman's sparse preparations prompt the brass to short modal melodic fragments and multiphonic sound effects. By the final Chimaera, Dempster and Heasley explore raw animal trumpeting and bird-like chirps, even as Heasley discretely uses reverb and echo to place himself an aural distance from the others.

Heasley and Dempster have successfully expanded the capabilities of low brass instruments, once relegated to the back of the band. Even though the trombone has a long and distinguished jazz history, few performers before Dempster moved in as wide a field, such as his recent participation on the doom metal group Sunn)))O's recent Monoliths and Dimensions. Heasley is moving the tuba along similar routes, and this recording is another milestone in his explorations. The recording quality is uniformly excellent, with audience noise kept to a minimum, vibrantly mixed and mastered by Heasley and Scott Fraser, the Kronos Quartet's sound designer.

Review by Caleb Deupree

 

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